Why Gentle Nutrition?

by Brigid Horan, 21st August 2018

Why have I decided to change my business name? Good question.

I started my private practice almost 1 year ago and I have learnt a lot in that time. Initially, I was concerned about publicly identifying as a Health at Every Size (HAES®) Dietitian because there are so many misconceptions about what we do. Now, after working with women who are convinced that their bodies are no good and need to change, I no longer care what others think. Over the past year I have become fiercely passionate about working in a weight inclusive way that promotes both physical and mental health and I want my business name to reflect this. 

Our culture is obsessed with thinness and it is unhealthy. It amazes (and frustrates) me that health professionals are still recommending dieting for weight loss. We have known for many years that dieting and food restriction is unsuccessful for most people in the long term, and often leads to disordered eating habits and long-term weight gain. As a HAES dietitian, I want to help my clients reject the diet mentality and embrace their body as it is today. I want them to focus on health behaviours, rather than their body size. 

What is Gentle Nutrition?

Intuitive Eating is a framework which guides people to reject food rules and the diet mentality, and instead reconnect with their internal body cues including hunger fullness and satisfaction. It is described by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in the original book Intuitive Eating and has 10 principles including:

  • Reject the Diet Mentality
  • Honour Your Hunger
  • Make Peace with Food
  • Challenge the Food Police
  • Respect Your Fullness
  • Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  • Honour Your Feelings Without Using Food
  • Respect Your Body
  • Exercise – Feel the Difference
  • Honour Your Health With Gentle Nutrition

Yes, the final principle is Honour Your Health With Gentle Nutrition. Gentle nutrition comes last for good reason. If introduced too early nutrition advice will be tuned into a new food rule or diet practice. 

Evelyn and Elyse write:

"Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well. Remember that you do not have to eat perfectly to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It's what you eat consistently over time that matters - progress not perfection is what counts." 

Misconceptions about Intuitive Eating and HAES®


·      HAES is anti-weight loss -  We are not anti-weight loss we are just not weight focused. We focus on health behaviours not weight.

·      We are anti nutrition - Again not true. Nutrition is very important but it is certainly not everything and we know that if we do not proceed gently with nutrition advice it can be construed as rigid food rules that is often unhelpful.

·      Intuitive Eating encourages people to eat whatever they want whenever they want it - We do encourage people to honour their hunger, lose the food police and embrace all foods with attunement. Attunement involves paying attention to our internal cues of hunger, fullness and satisfaction.

These misconceptions fail to understand that moving away from the scales and rigid thinking around food can actually be health-enhancingand pro-nutrition. It can allow people to make sustainable foods choices from a place of self-care, rather than with the aim of weigh control.

I want to make it clear that I am a HAES® Non-Diet Dietitan. My practice is a non-judgemental, weight-neutral zone. I will not prescribe diets for weight loss. You will not be encouraged to count calories or receive a calorie-controlled meal plan from me. 

And now my business name reflects this.